Friday at 1:00p.m. pacific time on NBCSNW —
The Trail Blazers and Grizzlies showdown will tip-off the NBA restart for both teams as the battle for that eighth and final playoff spot begins.
Memphis went 1-2 in their scrimmage games in Orlando, while the Blazers finished with an 0-3 record, and didn’t have a full healthy roster in any of those three contests.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].
But now, Portland says they are healthy and ready to go.
And, what about Memphis?
They’ll be without Tyus Jones (right knee; soreness) and Justise Winslow (left hip; displacement), but they also feel like they have a little extra motivation with the NBA restart.
Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant has continued to put on a show in Orlando in the Grizzlies’ scrimmages. Morant closed out scrimmage play with a double-double. The 20-year-old point guard finished with 22 points, 12 assists, three rebounds and one steal.
And now we know the truth on how Morant feels about the 22-team format in the NBA restart with the potential play-in games.
Morant joined ESPN’s The Jump Thursday where he discussed how he thinks it’s unfair that the 3.5-game padding that Memphis built during the regular season in the West feels almost irrelevant now because of the way the NBA has set up the eight seeding games that could lead to possible play-in games.
This is what Morant had to say when Rachel Nichols asked him if the NBA restart format was fair:
Honestly, I don’t think so, but we can’t control that. Only thing we can control is how, you know, we go out and attack each of these games before that decision is made. — Memphis rookie Ja Morant
Coming into Thursday’s seeding games, the Grizzlies held a 3.5 game lead over Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento.
Memphis must hold a 4.5 game lead on the ninth seed by the time the seeding games end in order to avoid a play-in game(s) to decide the eighth and final playoff team in the Western Conference standings.
« I just feel like it’s an extra chip, » Morant said, when asked if the format could provide the team with extra motivation. « You know — more fuel to the fire, more motivation for us. But coming into this season I think we were projected to be 29th, and look at us now. So we just use that as fuel, continue to work. We’re all very hungry. We know what we’re capable of. Just go out and play. » »
All three games Memphis will play against teams chasing them in the standings are within their first week of the restart.
Memphis Eight Seeding Games:
- Friday, July 31 vs. Trail Blazers
- Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Spurs
- Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Pelicans
- Wednesday, Aug. 5 vs. Jazz
- Friday, Aug. 7 vs. Thunder
- Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Raptors
- Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Celtics
- Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Bucks
Grizzlies power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who was averaging 16.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game before the league suspended play, discussed the Grizzlies mentality on facing the Blazers in their first seeding game as he reminisced about their only other battle this season when Memphis beat Portland on their homecourt, 111-104 in mid-Feb.
“It was a big game, I remember that at home,” Jackson said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s gonna be something similar. I think any time we could’ve played them in these games it could’ve been good, but if we’re playing them now that’s cool too.”
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Memphis also realizes that this isn’t the same Portland team they beat back in Feb. now that the Blazers have their two 7-footers in Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back, who are now finally healthy and ready to make some noise.
Portland’s a talented team. Obviously, a team that played in the Western Conference Finals last year. We’ve done our study. We know this isn’t the same team we faced during the season, but the focus is going to remain on us. We’ve done our due diligence to prepare for them and I know our guys are excited to face them tomorrow. — Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said after Thursday’s practice
You can check out the Blazers and Grizzlies on the official network of the Trail Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest. Coverage starts at 10:30a.m Friday with ‘Blazers Game Day’ followed by ‘Blazers Warm-up’ at noon and Blazers Pregame at 12:30p.m.
And if you can’t get to a TV, you still don’t miss a second of the action. Download the MyTeams App and live stream the game.